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Vigil honors 2 public servants who died Monday

WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCIV) - A community came together Thursday night and mourned those who lost their lives while responding to Monday night's shooting at a West Ashley apartment complex.

A candlelight vigil was held in honor of Deputy Joseph Matuskovic and communications manager Larry Britton.

More than 100 people packed the lawn outside the building where one officer was shot and killed and two other were wounded. Young and old, public officials, law enforcement, residents, locals, friends, and concerned citizens all showed up to pay their respects for the men who died.

Tears of sadness slid down the cheeks of those who came to remember.

"The response from our community just in the last couple of days have been overwhelming," said Sheriff Al Cannon.

Black ribbons and white candlesticks were passed around as a strength and unity.

Two candles were lit to represent the lives lost.

"These gentleman and ladies put their lives on the line every day no knowing whether they would come home or not. Unfortunately, we are paying tribute to a couple who didn't make it home to their families," said Butch Kennedy.

Most of those who came to the vigil had never met Matuskovic and Britton, but each left with a newfound respect for the two longtime public servants.

"It was great. I loved seeing the community come out and support law enforcement. I feel we don't have that enough," said Charleston Southern student Emily Satcher.

Thomasiaa Beall lives in the apartment complex and saw the vigil as a good way to move forward past the week's deadly events.

"It was so sad. It was nice to come out and support," Beall said.

And as the sun set, music played. The candles were slowly, methodically blown out - except for the two.

During Cannon's speech, he sent his well wishes to deputies Michael Ackerman and Julius Alexander, the two men who were wounded in the shootout with the gunman.

He also sent his condolences to the father of Michael Oswald, who deputies say opened fire on officers Monday night.

Meanwhile, the widespread and close-knit public service community is preparing for a pair of funerals.

The first memorial service will begin Thursday for Assistant Chief Larry Britton, who died Monday night after a cardiac event. He was working with Charleston County during the standoff in West Ashley, making sure all of the communications equipment was working flawlessly.

His visitation is set for Thursday, Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. at McAllister's Funeral Home on Savannah Highway.

His funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Betsy Kerrison Parkway.

Then on Sunday, a visitation for Matuskovic has been planned for Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. at the McAlister-Smith Funeral Home on Bees Ferry Road. The funeral service will be held at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church on Sept. 15 at 10 a.m.

Rep. Leon Stavrinakis has formally requested that flags be flown at half-staff for Matuskovic's funeral.

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